As sung by Wet, Wet, Wet, ‘love is all around’ at this time of the year. However, Lesli Knope taught us that, actually, ‘the best day of the year’ is when you get to come together with your best friends. The fictional character of the American series Parks and Recreation created the first official Galentine’s day, when in an episode in 2010, she invites her girl friends for a ‘ladies celebrating ladies’ brunch. From that moment on, girls and women have claimed ownership of February 13th, or any other day of this month, to gather their closest friends for a special occasion.

A dinner date and a concert

Enjoying their free lunch hour on campus, Nathania, Stella, Abigail, and Louisa’s laughter is audible to anyone passing by, as they engage in a light-hearted conversation. “We are always together”, says Nathania with a smile. The four friends met just last September when they started the Management master’s programme at RSM. Coming from the Netherlands, Germany, and Aruba, they knew they were ‘the perfect match’ right away, as they connect over life goals and sense of humour. Since they share such a recent friendship, this will be the first opportunity for the students to celebrate Galentine’s day as a group. “I first saw the term on Instagram, and I immediately thought of celebrating Valentine’s with the girls”, explains Louisa.

For this group, the plan almost formed itself, as they had already bought tickets to attend the concert of the R&B artist Masego in Amsterdam, on the 15th. “We don’t even know who that is, but Stella knows, so we’re going with her so she can have fun!”, says Nathania, making the whole group laugh. Putting her hands against her chest, Stella smiles: “I’m so, so grateful!”. To mark the day, they decided to have a dinner date before catching the show, and ‘make it a celebration with the girls’, shares Nathania. “We always talk about spending more time together, quality time” says Stella, referring to Galentine’s day as a good opportunity to ‘enjoy each other’s company’.

Galentines valentines day friends studenten_feb2024_Kim Casamitjana
The students knew they would be friends since the moment they met. Image credit: Kim Casamitjana

A feminist practice and the democratisation of love

But is Galentine’s day a feminist practice? “For sure”, affirms Nathania, “as a woman, you need to celebrate yourself because we live in a man’s world”. For the students, this is the right moment to do so. Organising group dates is a way of cherishing each other and show your female friends how important it is to nurture strong bonds. “Girl friends are the ones who catch you when you are in trouble, those who really understand you”, explains Abigail. Nathania agrees: “We all empathise and sympathise with each other like no one can, and it makes you feel like you’re building a bond with people that you’re going to be lifetime friends with”.

But Galentine’s day is also a form of democratising love. Saving the date to come together is a way of showing appreciation for different types of love in their lives, even if not the romantic kind. “Love is for everyone”, says Abigail, “not everything has to be about being with a partner, you can also have other people that you really care about, and that care about you”. And even if you do have a partner, it is equally important to ‘remind your girls’ that they are also your ‘Valentine’, adds Louisa. Because ‘Valentine’s day’ – or Galentine’s day – ‘is for whoever you love’, and that includes your friends.

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